Recent quotes:

Jeremy Grantham Discusses Recession Call, Fed Policy, Market Bubbles - Bloomberg

We have shortages of resources. We have shortages of manpower. A population bust the like of which we have never seen, particularly in a few countries like China. We have an incredible growth in inequality, which I think is the poison in the political system. And we have a great surge of toxicity. I think we’ve made our planet unfavorable to life in every form, including homo sapiens. And these are real issues. They’re moving incredibly fast. They threaten perhaps the existence of a stable global society.

Police violence as a symptom

The problem is an economic and political system that has by design created a nation of serfs and obscenely rich masters. The problem is deindustrialization, offshoring of manufacturing, automation and austerity programs that allow families to be priced out of our for-profit healthcare system and see nearly one in five children 12 and younger without enough to eat. The problem is an electoral system that is legalized bribery designed to serve a tiny, unaccountable cabal of oligarchs that engage in legalized tax boycotts, deregulation, theft and financial fraud. The problem is that at least half of the working class and working poor, a figure growing exponentially as the pandemic swells the ranks of the unemployed, have been cast aside as human refuse and are being sacrificed on the altar of profit as the country reopens for business and the pandemic crashes in wave after wave on front line workers. The problem is the diversion of state resources, including over half all federal discretionary spending, to an unaccountable military machine that wages endless and futile wars overseas, the savage face of white supremacy beyond our border. This military machine perfects its brutal tactics and tools for control on people of color in the Middle East, as it did in other eras in Vietnam, Latin America and the Philippines. It passes on this knowledge, along with its surplus equipment, including sophisticated equipment for wholesale surveillance, drones, heavily armed SWAT teams, grenade launchers and armored vehicles, to police at home. Smashing down a door and terrorizing a family in a night police raid in Detroit looks no different from a night raid carried out against an Afghan family by Army Rangers in Kandahar. Empires eventually consume themselves. Thucydides wrote of the Athenian empire that the tyranny it imposed on others it finally imposed on itself.

End of an era: Media buyers are ditching the much-hated RFP - Digiday

Driving the shift is that agencies are consolidating their spending with fewer media sellers so there’s less need to cast a wide net with the RFP. More buyers are pursing the mantra of “fewer but deeper” relationships with buyers, especially as bigger chunks of budgets are run through programmatic (and, of course, Google and Facebook) as the workhorse for campaigns to get reach.

Confessions of a media buyer: 'It’s a game right now of how cheap you can be' - Digiday

Clients squeezed us for years by cutting down. These fees or commissions often helped us drive head count. It’s a game right now of how cheap you can be. What they want to know is you’re doing everything possible to give them the lowest rate. Some clients have taken it to the extreme in the way that we have to justify every single thing that is bought. Every P&L has to be completely outlined. They want to know everything from how much they’re paying a demand-side platform to more. They’ve taken it to the extreme. I’ve now had clients who won’t run with certain partners unless they in turn disclose what commissions they’re making. They even ask to be provided with the actual insertion orders from agency and vendor.

Angst Among Digital Media CEOs as Ads Fall: Is It Time to Sell? - Bloomberg

“You need to have a unique audience, a unique advertising proposition and unbelievable creative,” said Doug Rozen, chief digital and innovation officer at OMD, part of the advertising company Omnicom Group Inc. “If you can deliver those three things, you are going to find yourself on the better end of the spectrum, or at least the survival end.”

Civil, the blockchain-based journalism marketplace, is building its first batch of publications » Nieman Journalism Lab

Built on top of blockchain (the same technology that underpins bitcoin), Civil promises to use the technology to build decentralized marketplaces for readers and journalists to work together to fund coverage of topics that interest them, or for those in the public interest. Readers will support reporters using “CVL” tokens, Civil’s cryptocurrency, giving them a speculative stake in the currency that will — hopefully — increase in value as more people buy in over time. This, Civil, hopes will encourage more people to invest in the marketplaces, creating a self-sustaining system that will help fund more reporting.

Free content at Facebook

A neutral observer might wonder if Facebook’s attitude to content creators is sustainable. Facebook needs content, obviously, because that’s what the site consists of: content that other people have created. It’s just that it isn’t too keen on anyone apart from Facebook making any money from that content. Over time, that attitude is profoundly destructive to the creative and media industries. Access to an audience – that unprecedented two billion people – is a wonderful thing, but Facebook isn’t in any hurry to help you make money from it. If the content providers all eventually go broke, well, that might not be too much of a problem. There are, for now, lots of willing providers: anyone on Facebook is in a sense working for Facebook, adding value to the company. In 2014, the New York Times did the arithmetic and found that humanity was spending 39,757 collective years on the site, every single day. Jonathan Taplin points out that this is ‘almost fifteen million years of free labour per year’. That was back when it had a mere 1.23 billion users

The Wall Street Journal shutters eight blogs: “The tools for telling” stories have changed » Nieman Journalism Lab

“If it were 100 years ago, this would have lasted for 50 years, but the way technology changes and the way reader nature changes every five years now, its lifespan was just so much shorter,” New York Times metro editor Wendell Jamieson said at the time. “That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an important bridge, but it’s a different industry than it was when City Room launched. It’s truly the post-blog era, and I barely had time to get into the blog era.”

NoTrove Malware is Killing Ad Network - - Performance Marketing Insider

They are then displayed on unsuspecting websites through a variety of methods. This might include poor website management or using hacked credentials to take over a website. More effective is the breaking into established advertising networks and using them to place ads on thousands of small business websites and blogs. In February RiskIQ reported that advertising networks from Google, AOL and Rubicon were among those hacked into. This allows malvertising from the like of NoTrove to be placed on large numbers of websites including those of very large companies.

Alternate realities

In the old days, a liberal and a conservative (a “dove” and a “hawk,” say) got their data from one of three nightly news programs, a local paper, and a handful of national magazines, and were thus starting with the same basic facts (even if those facts were questionable, limited, or erroneous). Now each of us constructs a custom informational universe, wittingly (we choose to go to the sources that uphold our existing beliefs and thus flatter us) or unwittingly (our app algorithms do the driving for us). The data we get this way, pre-imprinted with spin and mythos, are intensely one-dimensional. (As a proud knight of LeftLand, I was interested to find that, in RightLand, Vince Foster has still been murdered, Dick Morris is a reliable source, kids are brainwashed “way to the left” by going to college, and Obama may yet be Muslim. I expect that my interviewees found some of my core beliefs equally jaw-dropping.)

Google and Facebook are booming. Is the rest of the digital ad business sinking? - Recode

Kint estimates that Google, which saw its ad revenue grow 22 percent in the first half of the year, accounted for 60 percent of the ad market’s year-over-year growth, while Facebook, which grew 67 percent, accounted for 43 percent of the growth. That’s a total growth of 103 percent, if you’re keeping score. Which means that the rest of the industry collectively shrank.

Good luck suckers

Independent media is just becoming an impossible business. If you’re trying to run a content business and you’re not named Apple, Google, Facebook or Amazon, good luck to you. You’re going to need it.

Facebook adjusts News Feed to favor friends and family over publishers | The Verge

The technical change this time around is that Facebook will favor links shared by your friends and family over links that publishers place directly into the News Feed through their pages. The Verge will share this post on its Facebook page, but that will matter less than if large numbers of people paste this link into a new post on Facebook to share it with their friends directly.

Salon's enduring losses

in the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2015 (the most recent quarter for which data is publicly available), Salon had $1.95 million in revenue and $2.19 million in expenses, for a net loss of about $250,000. That’s better than the year before — in the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2014, Salon had $1.47 million in revenue and $2.27 million in expenses, for a net loss of about $800,000 — but it’s still a net loss.

Publishers 'feeding on scraps from Facebook', says Bloomberg Media boss | Media | The Guardian

Newspapers, magazines and other publishers are “feeding on the scraps” of Facebook’s multibillion-dollar ad business despite playing a central role in keeping the social network’s users happy, according to the boss of Bloomberg Media. Justin Smith, chief executive of the financial information company’s publishing arm, told the Guardian that even though Facebook was sending traffic to publisher websites, it was making far more from ads in its news feed which was filled with publisher content. “They keep the $16bn to $18bn they get in the news feed, and the news feed, with personal sharing down, is effectively all of our content, it’s effectively just an aggregation of premium publishers’ content,” he said.

There Are Now 2,000 YouTube Channels With At Least One Million Subscribers - Tubefilter

As YouTube analytics site VidStatsx shows, there are now more than 2,000 channels with seven-digit subscriber counts. T[…]on February 23, 2010 — YouTube’s 5th birthday — there were only five channels with at least one million subscribers. Two years later, that number was up to 68; two years after that, 594; and now, two years and five weeks later, there are 2,000 “YouTube millionaires.” In the past year alone, more than 850 new channels have claimed that title.

Programmatic pays off for P&G

P&G is seeing "three to five times greater ROI through programmatic buying than we are through traditional environments."

The sad economics of being famous on the internet | Fusion

We’re a two-person video creation machine. When we’re not producing and starring in a comedy sketch and advice show, we’re writing the episodes, dealing with business contracts and deals, and running our company Gallison, LLC, which we registered officially about a month ago. And yet, despite this success, we’re just barely scraping by. Allison and I make money from ads that play before our videos, freelance writing and acting gigs, and brand deals on YouTube and Instagram. But it’s not enough to live, and its influx is unpredictable. Our channel exists in that YouTube no-man’s-land: Brands think we’re too small to sponsor, but fans think we’re too big for donations.

Text Me? Ping Me? Communications Overload in the Digital Age - The New York Times

Continue following our fashion and lifestyle coverage on Facebook (Styles and Modern Love), Twitter (Styles, Fashion, and Vows), and Instagram. A version of this article appears in print on December 13, 2015,

Yahoo: old media redux

At a time when much of the advertising industry is focusing on technology and data to reach ever more specific groups of consumers across the web, Yahoo has instead invested huge sums of money in content and talent geared to the mass market. “It becomes vanilla in a land of not 32, but 5,032 flavors,” said Rob Norman, the chief digital officer of WPP’s GroupM, the world’s biggest buyer of online advertising. “What Yahoo tried to do both with magazines and video was to be old media in the Internet age, and I suspect that that wasn’t the answer.” The result, advertisers say, is that Yahoo has gone out of fashion. And the money is moving away. Yahoo is predicted to take in about $3.4 billion in digital ad revenue this year, or only about 2 percent of the global digital ad market, down from 2.4 percent in 2014, according to eMarketer.

Adblocking ahead

Another, recent report from Adobe and PageFair, a service that attempts to monetize users who block ads, estimated that sixteen percent of people in the US block ads. In some pockets of the internet, the rate of adblocking has always been high—according to Adobe and PageFair, 26.5 percent of people who visit gaming websites block ads, and at a tech website I used to work at, even five years ago, the rate hovered around thirty percent—but according to the Adobe report, usage of adblocking software has grown forty-eight percent in the US over the last year.

NowThis scraps its website, goes all-in on social

Senior V.P. of strategy and partnerships Athan Stephanopoulos said that the decision to essentially scrap the company's website was a reaction to consumer demand, and an acknowledgement of the way people use technology in 2015. Other media companies will follow suit, he said, "unless we live in a world where people are not awake.""We're not trying to lead the industry," he said. "We are leading the industry and kind of redefining what a media company today looks like."

Stop using BuzzFeed to argue small news sites can’t make money | Simon Owens

But if you’re willing to either go niche or appeal to a highly selective, educated audience and don’t generate massive overhead costs, then yes, there’s plenty of profit to be had for “second and third tier” news sites.
The biggest threat to publishers are the hybrid authors, who move from traditional publishing into self-publishing. While publishers work hard to keep their name-brand authors from defecting with sweet enough deals to keep them happy, midlisters in the past have been neglected. These are the people for whom self-publishing may be increasingly attractive. In the past, these authors might have been dropped by traditional publishers if they didn’t have enough sales, marking a precipitous end to their careers or their series. The publishers could then have turned around and offered the authors’ readers something else to read with a good chance of sales. Now, however, these authors can self-publish their work, and their readers can and do follow them and find the books they love. Readers’ relationships are with authors and their stories. No one really cares who the publisher is. The traditional authors who goes indie quickly becomes the publisher’s competition. In the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey, 5% of authors fit this profile or more than a third of traditionally published authors. All indications are that this number is growing.
Metafilter came from two or three internets ago, when a website's core audience—people showing up there every day or every week, directly—was its main source of visitors. Google might bless a site with new visitors or take them away. Either way, it was still possible for a site's fundamentals to be strong, independent of extremely large outside referrers. What's so disconcerting now is that the new sources of readership, the apps and sites people check every day and which lead people to new posts and stories, make up a majority of total readership, and they're utterly unpredictable (they're also bigger, always bigger, every new internet is bigger). People still visit sites directly, but less. Sites still link to one another, but with diminishing results. A site that doesn't care about Facebook will nonetheless come to depend on Facebook, and if Facebook changes how Newsfeed works, or how its app works, a large fraction of total traffic could appear or disappear very quickly. Of course a website's fortunes can change overnight. That these fortunes are tied to the whims of a very small group of very large companies, whose interests are only somewhat aligned with those of publishers, however, is sort of new. The publishing opportunity may be bigger today than it's ever been but the publisher's role is less glamorous: When did the best sites on the internet, giant and small alike, become anonymous subcontractors to tech companies that operate on entirely different scales?
Do I want to dump “agencies” completely, or do I just want a different kind of “agency” support? Is the goal to excise layers between my dollars and the end media? Or am I looking to make my programmatic media more effective and/or more strategic relative to what my current agency is doing? Is my frustration with my agencies limited to programmatic media?